General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi being sworn in as Egypt's seventh president on Sunday.
General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi being sworn in as Egypt’s seventh president on Sunday.

CAIRO — Egypt’s former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday pledged to “correct the mistakes of the past” as he was sworn in as the country’s new President, strengthening the military’s grip on power in the deeply polarized nation.

Sisi, 59, was declared the country’s seventh president last week after winning 96.6 per cent of the presidential vote, almost a year since he ousted Islamist leader Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected president, last year.

The retired field marshal took the oath of office for a 4-year term at a ceremony held in front of the Supreme constitutional court’s general assembly here, vowing to lead the country through important changes.

“… Egypt will witness a total rise on both internal and external fronts, to compensate what we have missed and correct the mistakes of the past,” he said.

“The time has come to build a more stable future,” said Sisi, the sixth Egyptian leader with a military background. “Let us work to establish the values of rightness and peace,” he added.

Despite the political upheaval Egypt has faced in recent years, Sisi celebrated the transition from interim President Adly Mansour.

“In the long history that goes back thousands of years, our homeland did not witness democratic transfer of power. Now, for the first time, the president-elect shakes hands with the outgoing president, and together they sign a power transfer document in an unprecedented occasion,” he said in a nationally televised address.

The presidential election was held last month amid political turbulence that saw Morsi’s ouster after the overthrow of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.

Sisi, who was army chief at the time of Morsi’s ouster, stepped down from his military post this year to run for president. In the election, Sisi defeated the only other contender Hamdeen Sabahi.

Security in Cairo was stepped up, with tanks positioned in strategic locations as Sisi spoke to foreign dignitaries after a 21-gun salute at Cairo’s main presidential palace.

The low-key ceremony was attended by the entire cabinet of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab as well as Sisi’s wife and children.

Sisi, wearing a navy blue western suit, entered the hall walking side by side with Mansour.

Morsi, who became the country’s first democratically-elected president after the ouster of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak, was deposed on July 3, 2013 following massive protests calling for his resignation.

Sisi inherits a nation that is divided and weary. –PTI.

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